In Islam all things which are harmful or whose harm exceeds Ilu-ir benefit are unlawful. This includes every substance that affects the mind, damages it or decreases its abilities. Therefore, alcohol would be deemed unlawful even if it were not clearly prohibited in the Qur›an and prophetic traditions. For anything that causes harm in any way is considered unlawful.[ 1]
There are a number of medical reasons for the prohibition of alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been the scourge of human society since time immemorial. It continues to take countless human lives and cause misery to millions throughout the world. And it affects the mind, diminishing the individual›s menial powers and making him accustomed to running away from his problems. It affects his finances as well, due to the expenditure that his generally expensive habit forces upon him. There is no need to go into detail about all the ill effects of alcohol since most of them are commonly known.
Because alcohol incapacitates the inhibitory center in the brain, an inebriated person is often found to be indulging in behavior that is completely uncharacteristic – using abusive language, becoming aggressive and violent, or committing shameful acts. Statistics showing a rising number of deaths, soaring crime rates, increasing instances of mental illness, and millions of broken homes throughout the world bear witness to the destructive effect of drinking alcohol.
The harm that results from alcohol is not limited only to the one who drinks; it is also damaging to others. The diseases caused by alcohol weaken society as a whole. Productivity is decreased due to its effects, and crimes result from addiction. According to a World Health Organization report on violent crimes in 30 countries, 86% of murders and 50% of rapes are carried out under the influence of alcohol. There are similar statistics in most countries around the world. Additionally, public health officials have estimated that half of the road accidents resulting in deaths and permanent disabilities are caused by people under the influence of alcohol.
Islam agrees that prevention is the best treatment. However, Muslims do not abstain from drugs and intoxicants due to its detrimental effects, but rather, because God has prohibited them. So abstention is a form of worship and obedience for which they are rewarded by God in the Hereafter, as well as protecting them from harm in the present life.
1 Some people claim that they can exercise self-control and never get intoxicated. But investigations reveal that every alcoholic began as a social drinker. No one initially starts drinking with the intention of becoming an addict. It just happens along the way.